Likely the best defensive team effort of the entire KJCCC season came at the Conestoga Arena on Wednesday night.
It was definitively the host Garden City Broncbuster women’s best defensive performance of the season as they dominated visiting Independence from tip to buzzer in a 57-43 win, taking apart the Pirates’ highly efficient offense piece by piece over the course of 40 minutes to hand Independence (16-5, 14-4) just their fifth conference loss.
The defensive rotations were never late. The on-ball defense was superb. The face-guarding post defense disrupted Independence’s entry passes, and the help defense was Red Cross-like.
“Whether it was diving on the floor for loose balls, face-guarding somebody, helping, no direct entry into the post, it was everybody tonight,” GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell said of the win that improves her Busters to 13-9 overall and 10-8 in the KJCCC.
The Busters held the Pirates — the conference’s second-most-efficient offense coming into Wednesday — to their fewest points in a game all season, and 0.72 points per possession, .24 below their season average.
“They just played with more aggression tonight,” fifth-year Indy head coach and long-time basketball coach Leslie Crane said. “Our kids didn’t get off the bus … but Garden did a good job of making things difficult for us. They punched first, and we took it. Our kids laid down, basically.”
Makes sense, considering the Busters covered them like a blanket all night.
Indy’s sophomore post Alek Akuen was held to eight points, while their usual leading scorer, Erica Moore, had just five points on six shots.
“We had to clog the post,” GCCC sophomore guard Jada Washington said. “That’s how that team is really oriented, the post. So, we just clogged it and gave the guards a little bit of ball pressure. But we helped off a lot, so that was keeping them from the post and getting the easy buckets they got on us last time.”
The Pirates routed Garden City, 80-44, in November in Independence.
This time, the Pirates’ only leads came at 2-0 in the first minute and 9-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Talia Roberts — who was returning from injury after a two-game absence — sank a 3-pointer to give the Busters a lead, which they wouldn’t surrender for the rest of the game.
Roberts had seven points off the bench, while Washington led the Busters with 12. Shakendra Tilley had 10 points and seven rebounds, and was highly effective defending the post.
“They were working hard, not letting (Indy) catch it and get it easy,” Washington said of Tilley and the rest of Garden City’s post defenders.
Independence hit just 15 of its 45 shots, going one for seven from beyond the 3-point line. Outside of a seven-for-13 fourth quarter, when the game was essentially out of reach, the Pirates shot just eight of 32 (25 percent).
Even their 33.3 percent was the Pirates’ third-worst shooting effort for the season.
“Our kids didn’t perform, and you’ve got to give credit to Garden for what they did to us defensively,” Crane said.
The Pirates could not hit a beach ball on a tee in the first half, going five of 22 from the field, turning it over seven times on top of that. Only thing that kept the Pirates within striking distance was going eight of nine from the free-throw line.
The Busters hit just 37 percent of their shots in the half (10 of 27), but hit five 3-pointers to Independence’s none, and none were bigger than Daz Johnson’s with four minutes to play in the half, giving the Busters a 24-15 lead. It came as the Busters had hit just one field goal in six minutes.
And when Jessica Carrillo made a 3-pointer with a minute to play, and the Pirates managed just five points in the period, the Busters had a commanding 29-18 lead at half.
The Busters continue a two-game homestand when they host rival Dodge City at 4 p.m. Saturday.